Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton Setting Analysis

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Setting Analysis of Ethan Frome
By: Mary Thompson

Ethan Frome Analysis
In Edith Wharton’s novel Ethan Frome, setting is an important element. The setting greatly influences the characters, transportation, and activities.
The setting takes place in a small town called “Starkfield”. Starkfield is a town that is just like its name, it is boring, barren, severe, and harsh. Starkfield is known for its many harsh winters that leave the inhabitants bitter and in harsh condition. Starkfield is a village that lays “under a sheet of snow perpetually renewed from the pale skies” (pg.10).By the time the snow is gone and things are well it snows again. Not only is the snow harsh but it acts as a barrier to many of the residents keeping them stuck in the harsh climate. As the snow keeps many people prisoner it is most likely known for keeping the Frome’s stuck in Starkfield. Ethan is stuck in Starkfield with the family farm, since it is winter all the time his farm will not sell and there is little money to get him by.

The setting effects all of the characters in many different ways. The Frome’s house with it broken “L”, shows that Ethan is exposed to the grim society of Starkfield, which comes back to Ethan’s broken life and torn relationship with Zeena. Ethan is effected in many ways and aspects by the setting. Ethan is “ in Starkfield too many winters.”( pg. 10) This ends up being like a jail and Ethan Frome is being trapped in and cannot get out. Zeena Frome in particular is one other inhabitant who is greatly affected by the Starkfield winters. Zeena’s health is in terrible condition and is also one of the barriers keeping Ethan entombed in Starkfield. Zeena is constantly looking for “expensive remedies” (pg 25) to cure her sickness but nothing seems to work for her. So as the Starkfield winters get more atrocious Zeena gets more bitter. As Zeena gets more bitter and Ethan is stuck in Starkfield there relationship starts to grow apart. Without the...
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